Exclusive Interview: Bill Hader
When you see Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs this weekend, you may think the voice of the main character, hyper inventor Flint Lockwood, sounds a bit familiar. You may not recognize it, though, since you're probably more used to hearing the owner of that voice pretending to be Daniel Plainview, Al Pacino, Vincent Price, or dozens of other people other than himself.
SNL's man of many voices Hader is just one part of the brilliant voice cast for Cloudy, part of what helps elevate the movie from standard-issue children's movie to something truly absurd and great. I sat down with Hader at the end of a long junket today to talk about a lot of things, including his favorite movies of the summer, how he developed a voice for Flint that wasn't quite his own, and what it feels like to return to SNL at the end of the summer. Check it all out below.
Is there anything you haven't been asked today that you want to talk about?
I don't know. No, we've gone through the whole thing I think. I liked District 9. I liked Up and Anvil, were my two favorite movies so far this year. Drag Me to Hell was kick ass. I can't think of anything else.
What all were you in this summer?
I was in Adventureland and Night at the Museum and Year One.
It took me about 5 minutes to realize that was you in Year One.
Yeah, I had the flu. I was wearing basicaly no clothes, super super cold outside. And I was running a fever. It was four days of shooting. The whole thing where I'm like screaming. It was so crazy shooting that. But it was fun. It was nice having Michael and Jack there, and just to get to work with Harold Ramis, it's kind of one of those once in a lifetime moments.
You've done voices for a couple of other animated movies, but this seems like by far the biggest?
This is technically my first leading role in a movie.
Did it feel different being the voice of the lead?
It was much more work, and I thought doing the voices for a movie would have ben kind of easy, but instead it was one of the toughest jobs I have ever had.
Is it just draining because you're in there by yourself?
Yeah, you're just kind of there by yourself, working through stuff. It is draining, no doubt about it.
The directors talked about the opportunities to improvise, but I imagine that would be hard whe you're by yourself.
Yeah, improvising is only really works 100% when you're with somebody. But they wrote a really funny script. If anything it was just switching up the words a little bit, or adding a little thing at the beginning or the end, minor stuff.
Was the script the first thing you got?
No, I actually went to a conference room, and in the conference room was just a wheel of Sam Sparks walking on Jello, and then it was a shot of my character kind of reacting. Then a thing of the snowball fight where I'm hitting people with snowballs. When I saw the snowball scene, I thought, oh, that's funny. But I knew these guys' work from Clone High. I was like, I just want to work with them. I had met them through Andy Samberg and WIll Forte, because they're friends with them. I was ready to say yes based on Clone High and knowing them.
When you think of an animated kid's movie, you never really know how it will turn out, and this is so much funnier than you would expect.
Yeah, so much funnier, and that as the nice thing about this, that these guys were allowed to have their sensibilities in the movie. A lot of times I think people, when they're doing a movie that's a family movie, they're woried about this being too esoteric or too dark or too weird. It's nice that they let them have their sensibilities in it.
Were you involved in the collaboration of putting the script together?
Yeah, sometimes. For some reason I remember a day when they showed me a cut of it. They showed me the first act, then they kind of walked me through the story. And they were like, so what do you think? Then we'd sit and talk about it. I've never had that asked of me before. They're very open. Greg Mottola is this way [too], they let you do your interpretation first and see what you're doing. It's very relaxed, like yeah, try this. As opposed to, before you even step on your mark, or before you even utter your first word, they have you in your head so much. I've had that happen before too.
Did you do a voice for this character, or is it just you?
I want to say we scrapped my first session, if I remember it right. Because I thought, oh, well I've got to do another voice. Then they called me and said, they animated some stuff to it, and we kind of want more of your own voice. What kind of got me the job is they animated Flint to me in an interview on a talk show, just to see what the character looked like with that voice coming out of it. I'm someone so used to disguising the way I talk, it was oddly harder to kind of relax and enjoy my own voice, which was just awkward. It is my voice, but it's a heightened version of my voice. It's not as relaxed, because the character is so hyper. I couldn't just use my normal voice, because I'm naturally kind of laid-back and low-energy, and this guy needs to be hyper all the time and nervous.
Are you guys going to be hiring anyone to play Michelle Obama on SNL this year?
I don't know. I just came back. It's funny, people always feel like we're all clued in with the show. It's like summer camp and coming back to high school. Oh, we have a new teacher. Oh, I have a new student in class. Someone got a haircut.
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